The App Store is 10 years old now, but despite all the information out there, several big brands still fall short on their ASO execution. So much so that it’s no surprise when you see an indie developer outranking some of Silicon Valley’s finest. Here are a few ways in which some of the strongest brands – such as Snapchat, Evernote, Star Wars and Target – are underperforming.
Adding Title Tags (iOS)
One key (but often overlooked) ASO strategy is using all the Title character space offered by the App Store and Google Play; Apple offers 30 characters and Google Play 50 characters. Oftentimes, apps will only include their app name in the Title space. By doing just this, developers are missing out on indexation and conversion potential. In addition to the app’s name, it is important to use Title Tags, which are brief value propositions following the Title, usually separated with a colon or dash. Title Tags help with indexing for more keywords, and with converting users in Search.
One major brand not using a Title Tag on iOS is Snapchat. Despite having a popular brand behind it, Snapchat is ranked low for core keywords such as “video chat,” “chatting apps” and “sms app.” An example of a strong Title Tag is HOLLA, whose current Title is “HOLLA: live random video chat.” By including “live random video chat,” not only is HOLLA communicating its features, it’s maximizing its indexation potential.
Adding Title Tags (Google Play)
When searching on Google Play, typically only the Title and Icon are displayed. Due to this, Titles should include Title Tags to help explain app features to users and overall help with conversion. Unfortunately, several big brands lack Title Tags, such as Evernote. Despite being one of the biggest productivity players, Evernote is not ranking in the Top 10 for several core keywords. Interestingly enough, when looking at the app in Search, you wouldn’t be able to tell what the app did without clicking it. Mobile users have an intent when searching on the app stores, and they are more likely to click on apps that clearly display the features they’re looking for. Without these clicks, apps will see a decline in their rankings, as would-be users choose other apps over them.
Another way big brands miss out on big opportunities is by not using a Subtitle on the App Store. On iOS, Apple crawls the Title, Subtitle and Keyword Bank when indexing apps. With the Subtitle offering 30 characters, developers are leaving about 20% of their indexation potential on the table by not using it. One major brand stands out in particular: Star Wars. Despite a lengthy app store presence, Disney has still not utilized the Subtitle field. Star Wars has the potential to rank for keywords tied to “photo filters,” “selfies,” “vr” and “weather forecast,” yet none of these keywords are included in the Subtitle. Star Wars and Disney have the opportunity to expand the app’s keyword reach, but by not taking advantage of the Subtitle space offered to them, they are missing out on valuable daily installs.
When coming across an app in Search on iOS or visiting its Search listing on Google Play, users will only a spend a few seconds reviewing the app before they decide whether to download it or move on. A major factor in converting these users are the Screenshots. One best practice is to highlight the app’s popular features and include call-to-action text to help users quickly understand what your app offers. Additionally, with 80% of downloads on iOS coming directly from Search, Screenshots have become pivotal to an app’s success. Too bad Target is not utilizing best practices, which could be a reason why it is missing out on top ranking to apps like Wish and Ibotta. Target’s screenshots are literal in-app screenshots. There is no clear focal point or text to educate users on what the app does.
A lot of times, major brands rely on their branding to garner mobile installs. But in the world of mobile, there are millions of apps live on the app stores, with thousands of new ones launched daily. The iOS and Google Play algorithms don’t care about brands, they care about relevance and conversion. When an app has poor or bare store listings, their brands are ineffective at improving their relevance, resulting in smaller brands with optimized listings rising to the top. Oftentimes, these missed opportunities are easily fixed, but are nonetheless neglected. Underutilized Titles, neglected Subtitles, and unoptimized Screenshots can be damaging to an app’s success, and should be averted.